GEORGE W Bush and Tony Blair are gearing up for a bloody war against Iraq as early as this October. These plans threaten to split society from top to bottom. The latest US war plan was leaked last week. It involves blasting Iraq with bombing raids and cruise missiles, causing civilian casualties and destruction on an unimaginable scale.
After the massive bombardment the US would invade Iraq with up to 50,000 troops. A previously leaked plan suggested that the US would send 250,000 ground troops to invade Iraq, using Jordan and Saudi Arabia as bases. But the US is terrified this would provoke wide-scale revolt and instability across the whole Middle East. The US hopes that by bombarding Iraq it can launch a full-scale attack sooner and minimise opposition.
But there are growing fears among the military top brass on both sides of the Atlantic.
The US-based paper the International Herald Tribune reported this week: 'Many senior US military officers contend that President Saddam Hussein poses no immediate threat, and that the United States should continue its policy of containment rather than invade Iraq.' In Britain General Sir Michael Rose, former head of the SAS and UN forces in Bosnia, warned of 'huge political and military risks associated with launching large scale ground forces into Iraq'.
But Bush's war preparations are already steaming ahead. Boeing and other US companies are reported to be working around the clock to produce the missiles that would rain devastation on Iraq. The New York Times recently reported, 'Thousands of marines have stepped up their mock assault drills.'
The US air force, according to the paper, 'is stockpiling weapons, ammunition and spare parts, like aeroplane engines, at depots in the United States and the Middle East.' The US wants to oust Saddam Hussein and install a pro-US administration in Iraq. One of the prime candidates to head a new administration is General Nizar al-Khazraji. He was the army chief when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Now living in exile in Denmark, al-Khazraji is under investigation by the Danish justice ministry.
He is accused of being heavily involved in the persecution of the Kurds in 1988, when the US and Britain still backed and armed Saddam Hussein's regime to the hilt. The US's war plans have prompted growing tensions and unease across British society. Yet Blair remains Bush's most reliable ally.
According to the Guardian, Blair has privately told Bush that Britain will support a US attack on Iraq.
'President Bush's 'understanding', based on conversations with the prime minister, is that he can count on Mr Blair, according to well placed Bush administration officials,' reports the paper. Yet there is growing opposition to the plans for war on Iraq from all sorts of unexpected places.
A new opinion poll this week confirmed that more than half the population of Britain oppose British troops being involved in any US-led military campaign against Iraq. Blair faced a barrage of mainly critical questions about his plans to support a US attack on Iraq at a Labour backbencher meeting and in parliament last week. But Blair brushed aside any pretence at listening to MPs, let alone the wider population, last week.
He made it clear that Britain would support an attack on Iraq without a mandate from the United Nations and without a vote in parliament. Despite the splits at the top, Bush and Blair are hell-bent on pushing ahead with their gung-ho plans.
The invasion of Iraq is central to Bush's strategy of securing US global dominance. We need to redouble our efforts to build a massive demonstration in London on Saturday 28 September against the attack on Iraq